#AtoZChallenge — Zusak and Zazz

 

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.” ― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Monday Morning Wisdom #152: Z is for Zusak, ARHtistic License


As Melissa Barker-Simpson puts it, “Our minds wander, it’s just the way it is. Sometimes we zone out by choice, by necessity, or because we don’t even realise we’re doing it.” As writers, our words occasionally do the same thing.

tumblr_lu7sfdzagc1qdhxyeo1_500
(gif source)

What I’ve learned from participating in NaNoWriMo is that when the word(s) I want wander off while I’m otherwise on a roll, it helps to just put in some temporary filler and keep on going. If the filler lacks zazz I can highlight it and make Future Me deal with that problem later, but for the sake of momentum I can save making the words absolutely right for the editing process. … I have a problem with finishing long stories sometimes.

 

On that note, I haven’t finished my Camp NaNoWriMo project but I did hit my 50k goal. I started the month with about 36k, so it’s not as impressive as it could be, but I’m quite pleased because I kept getting stuck on stuff in chapter six. Eventually I will finish it and go back to do a lot of editing. Gotta make sure it brings the zazz.

And now I’ve also finished the A to Z Challenge, woohoo!

 

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#AtoZChallenge — Your happy place

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


Find your happy place. This could be anything that gives you happiness. For me, my happy place is Harry Potter fanfictions. I have been a Potterhead ever since I read my first book. I took this craze to another level when I started reading fanfictions. (A fanfiction is a fiction written by a fan presenting his own PoV and his plot within the main storyline). I have never failed to read a few pages of a fanfic in the last 20 months.

You are in charge of your life, Musings of a Mother


My fall-back happy place is fandom participation. Mostly I write fanfics, and occasionally I do doodles — either way, I create. I do a lot of reading too, and commenting, and replying to comments, and feeling like part of a community. It’s constructive validation, because there’s always a special niche of people who will read what you want to write.

I am definitely in charge of my life. I’m broke and in debt to my parents, but I still have my freedom and make my own decisions. Sometimes those decisions gravitate towards being at home with my cats… because I’m an introvert anyway and why not spend my recharge time with furry little goofbutts.

When I quit my job back in August, it was because I was miserable. I’d seen my dad go through that for years, at a similar kind of job too, and I didn’t want to go down that dusty road. It was a hard decision, but it was one I had to make for my own sake and ultimately I still don’t regret it. Without my partner supporting me, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to leave without something else already lined up, and the problem with that is I was always to exhausted at the end of the day to job hunt for something better.

Support systems are pretty damn important. Without support, it would have taken me a lot longer to limp back to my happy place!

#AtoZChallenge — Xeriscape

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


X is the dreaded letter of this challenge, and frankly I was shocked when I started scrolling through the A to Z tag and found one I’d never seen before almost immediately.

Xeriscaping refers to the conservation of water through creative landscaping.

It was developed for drought-afflicted areas, but in today’s world it is gaining more momentum. It’s in wide use all over the world.

Derived from the Greek xeros meaning “dry,” the term means literally “dry landscape.”

X for xeriscape, Pragun’s Panchtattwa

This is the ideal for our little patch of the backyard. Currently it’s full of weeds that, I swear, are taller than me, but sometime soon we are going to get out there and whip it into shape. (In the meantime, it’s a relief that we have a fence to have our shame.)

2018-02-01 15.28.02-1California has been in a drought for years. Many suburban front yards have jumped on the xeriscaping bandwagon with rock gardens, and those that haven’t, we judge as we drive past. It’s what you do. And though the state is now in a weird drought-then-flooding-then-drought-then-flooding pattern, it’s becoming more and more clear that climate change is only going to make more intense.

Because of the warming atmosphere, the type of storms that produced the record flooding 156 years ago will probably be three to four times more frequent by the end of this century. That means San Francisco and Los Angeles are more likely than not to see an 1862-style deluge by 2060, according to the research published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change.

Such a series of storms, involving about 40 days of punishing rain, would become more of a 50-year event — a 1-in-50 chance of happening in any given year, the authors figure. …

The rapid shift last year from a five-year drought to an extraordinarily wet winter is a taste of the whiplash that the authors expect more of. Northern California is projected to see 25 percent more of these dramatic transitions, and Southern California will see 100 percent more.

SF Chronicle

So the drought is likely to continue, in an it’s-complicated-on-Facebook sort of way. Which means I need to find out…

What kinds of cacti and other succulents are cool with both drought and flooding?

#AtoZChallenge — We have labels

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


Our world is impossibly complex and often quite dangerous, it helps to have a system that can quickly process what kind of thing you are looking at and react appropriately. Categorization helps us make sense of a world where quick decisions have to be made, and a large amount of information has to be processed. It’s also a pretty reliable system for helping us get through situations that we may have not faced by providing a reference and a good guess. If you’ve seen a brown bear, you’ll have some idea of how to respond to a polar bear. If you’ve seen a mountain lion, you know that a tiger is dangerous. …

We have labels for what a man is supposed to be, what a woman is supposed to look like, how black people behave, what jobs a 60-year-old is capable of learning, what opportunities a poor person deserves, whether or not Muslims can be Americans. Our labels and categories help us understand our world, but they also put limits on it too. We aren’t good at seeing the shades, the subtlety, or continuity. We aren’t good at seeing the variation between two individual examples of a thing.

Kinds, Zen & Pi


I was reading Lisa’s post, quoted above, and it makes sense. Evolution has prepped us to categorize things on the fly, and in modern society that doesn’t always work well.

One thing people aren’t always good at recognizing is sexual orientation. Bisexuals and pansexuals get the brunt of this because, regardless of who they’re with, at first glance there are parts of their orientation that are always going to be invisible. Couples with one or more trans person might, on the surface pass as heterosexual, erasing their queerness, or if the trans person(s) doesn’t “pass” to the viewer’s standards then there’s several kinds of erasure there too. If someone says “partner” and the listener assumes that automatically means a same sex relationship — which could be true, and/or it could mean that the couple prefers the word as an acknowledgement that they are both equals in the relationship.

Everyone wants to be seen as more than just a first impression, as more than just a bookcover to be judged by. We may not be wired that way but we can, by virtue of self-awareness, train our brains to do more than just what evolution wired us for. We’re a social species, and we can adapt.

We can ask what pronouns people use.

Parents can ask their kids what synonym for “partner” they’d prefer used in the family holiday letter.

Before you hug someone, you can ask if they’re cool with hugs because, for example, someone with OCD might spend the rest of the day quietly but frantically going over and over and over it in their head for the rest of the day.

You can’t just see these kinds of things. Sometimes, you really just have to ask.

#AtoZChallenge — Voice

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


Your writer’s voice is supposed to be something that is uniquely your own. But what does that really mean? What the hell is writer’s voice? And how can you find something when you’re not even sure what it is?

Is it your style of writing? Is it your tone? Or is voice something else entirely?

According to one article I came upon, “voice is not only a unique way of putting words together, but a unique sensibility, a distinctive way of looking at the world, an outlook that enriches a writer’s oeuvre.”

I’m sorry, but that didn’t help at all. “A writer’s oeuvre”? Seriously?

V is for Voice, Fandango

I read this a few hours ago, and it’s occurred to me that since I left such a long comment it might as well become my post for the day. So here’s that comment, with some additions.

My concentration in college was Creative Writing, so I took a lot of writing courses. One of them focused specifically on “voice” — a concept that I’m still a little shaky on, to be honest, but hear me out.

Throughout the semester, the professor and I had a running argument about fanfiction. I am all for as a writing exercise, because it creates opportunities to be creative within a finite set of rules (canon) and a somewhat less finite set of your own personal take on things (head-canon). The professor argued that it was merely taking on the voice of other creators and not exploring my own.

But how are you supposed to figure out what your voice is if you don’t have meaningful examples? The course did attempt to provide some, but none I really clicked with. And I’m saying that as someone who read Grapes of Wrath in high school and couldn’t stop writing like Steinbeck for weeks. I didn’t even like that book.

For me, the iconic example is Douglas Adams — because I spent so much time writing Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy fanfiction. For a while, I had the Adams voice down pat, and that time it was intentional. I’m still not able to articulate what my own voice is, but I wouldn’t exactly be able to describe his either. It’s not something you define, it’s something you feel. Rhythm, content, it all blurs together into this thing that you kind of only identify from a distance, as an afterthought.

You know what I think? I think your own style is something you’re so intimately familiar with that it’s like… the taste in your mouth when you’re not tasting anything. It’s like the air you breath. It’s like water to a fish. Part of why I’ve come to this conclusion is because, if you try to think too hard about “sounding like yourself,” you overthink how to start the next story or the next scene, and you either end up staring at the blank space or forcing out some crap that you don’t really like.

oeu·vre
noun
the works of a painter, composer, or author regarded collectively.
“the complete oeuvre of Mozart”

So maybe your voice just is what it is, and only your readers can properly identify it because they have the necessary distance, the necessary perspective, and usually a fair amount of time to absorb a selection of your work. You can only know your voice when someone else hears it, and tells you what it sounds like.

#AtoZChallenge — Unicorns

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


U is for Unicorn Quilt Patterns

U is for Unicorn Quilt Patterns
— Read on arhtisticlicense.com/2018/04/24/u-is-for-unicorn-quilt-patterns/


I haven’t done much quilting since… ever. But the idea of a unicorn quilt kind of makes me want to! My favorite of the examples in the post linked above was the one with the geometric background.

More because of the rainbow than a stereotypically girly infatuation with unicorns. My infatuations of choice growing up were typically just dolphins, jellyfish, and dragons. A jellyfish quilt would be pretty cool too… Those things are weirdly majestic. Heh, what were your favorite animals as a kid?

#AtoZChallenge — Time

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


Speaking of time (thanks Armchair Explorer), I recently rewatched the movie About Time. It’s a favorite and always succeeds in making me cry, but at the same time always leaves me a little ticked that I can’t time travel.

Back in college, with my graduation year of 2010 fast approaching, I started having this reoccurring dream. In it, the stroke of midnight that ushered in 2010 would somehow slingshot me back to midnight of 2000, with all or most of my future memories intact. And oh, the things I did differently in those dreams.

  • I would have been more unflappable as I started at my new middle school.
  • I might have had the nerve to do choir as well as band.
  • When it came to fandoms, I would have gotten into Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy before the LiveJournal comms went dead.
  • I would’ve gotten my ears pierced sooner. My Grandma always wanted me to, even offering to get hers pierced a second time if I would get mine done. When I finally had mine pierced on a whim in high school as a distraction from being upset about something, I think she was a little sad that she hadn’t gotten to be there for it.
  • In sophomore year of high school I would have rolled my eyes and kept my mouth shut more while I friend of mine had a power trip.
  • I would have stood up to my mom more about why I didn’t care about going to school dances. I probably would have been out in high school.
  • I would have tried smoking weed in college.
  • There are people I would have avoided becoming to attached to in college, because they turned out to be insensitive jerks who had no problems with leaving me behind in the end.
  • I would have spoken up more in the second semester of that History if Education class, participated more in the discussions, and earned a grade as high as I got the first semester.
  • I might have studied abroad my junior year like everybody else, and not been so freakin lonely.

It’s not so much that I regretted what I had actually done… You know, beyond the basic looking back on some things and thinking oh god I can’t believe I did that oh god it’s so embarrassing. It was more like exploring what I could have done instead, what I would do if I were in that same position now and seeing how much I’ve grown since then. Those dreams brought me feelings of such intense pride in myself for no longer being such a doormat wallflower mouse.

I even had a similar dream more recently, probably due to watching About Time again. In it, I traveled from now to when I was in college and immersed in the Metalocalypse fandom. Because how frickin fun would it be to remember the fourth season before it aired, go into the fandom comms back in the day, and start presenting all these “crazy” theories that turned out to be RIGHT ON THE MONEY.

What would you do differently, and why?

#AToZChallenge — Success

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


#AToZChallenge S- Success

Just a quote for today.

Do not measure your success based upon what society thinks of you, instead focus on doing your best and being yourself.

— Read on jazminruizjournal.wordpress.com/2018/04/22/atozchallenge-s-success/


Success can mean many things.

This week, for me, success means doing so well on an interview that I actually got a frickin callback for a second interview this coming week! If all goes well, soon I will have finally wormed my way into the wine industry. As a greeter, sure, but once I have my foot in the door I can keep my ears open for potential marketing jobs.

Hurray!

#AtoZChallenge — Racing

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


Let’s start with a scenario…you’re scribbling (or tapping) away, totally in the zone and the characters are behaving themselves so it’s smooth sailing. You’re totally going with the flow, your mind is racing, the words pouring forth, and you start to wonder why you ever thought writing was so hard. Then the inevitable happens, you stumble over a simple word choice and reality hits you like a slap upside the head.

“Rack your brains,” Melissa Barker-Simpson

This is pretty much where I am with the story I chose to dedicate myself to for Camp NaNoWriMo.

When I started out, I was flying. So much so that I had to break the first half of what I’d written for chapter one into a prologue because it covered a ridiculous amount of time. By the time I was done with that, I also had a chapter by chapter outline, with notes and relevant songs to use as prompts/inspiration for setting the kind of mood I want. All of this was still vague enough that by the time I got to chapter six everything was still on track as planned, with the addition of some cool little plot developments that I’d figured out along the way.

And now, most of the way through chapter six and 45k words already in the doc, I’m starting to hit The Wall.

In endurance sports such as cycling and running, hitting the wall or the bonk is a condition of sudden fatigue and loss of energy which is caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles.

During middle school, I got into cross country running for a while. I felt The Wall many times. It’s pretty much the same as in writing… At some point it becomes a lot more effort to carry on, I’ve been working on the project so long and the shiny newness isn’t as shiny anymore, and I start feeling like I’d rather be doing anything else when, ultimately, that’s not the case.

It’s as important to finish the story as it is to finish the race, but sometimes some foot-dragging in the middle is to be expected. Also, it’s encouraging for me to note that this is the first big, chaptered story that I haven’t abandoned the draft somewhere in the middle. I’m firmly convinced that this newfound endurance — as well as taking the time to build a solid yet flexible outline — is from doing NaNoWriMo for the past few years.

And also this: sometimes the step back we need to take while writing comes in the form of adding an [insert whatever’s missing here] and forging ahead. I haven’t exactly done that (with this current project) but I have written some bits out of order. Having plot point C written made figuring out a point B to connect it to the already written point A easier.

I’ve also come up with solutions at those inopportune times that meant staying up late and throwing off my already weird sleep schedule. Ah, the writer life.

#AtoZChallenge — Quiet

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


19TH APRIL’18 – A TO Z CHALLENGE – LETTER ‘Q’

https://viewsofpreethib.wordpress.com/2018/04/19/19th-april18-a-to-z-challenge-letter-q/
— Read on viewsofpreethib.wordpress.com/2018/04/19/19th-april18-a-to-z-challenge-letter-q/

I am not very good at quiet. When I’m writing, cooking, cleaning the house, doing just about anything, I need something on in the background in order to concentrate. Sometimes it’s music, but more often it’s tv shows like Friends, That 70’s Show, Great British Baking Championship, etc. When I’m in the car I have audiobooks playing, and when I’m out for a walk I put my earbuds in and listen to audiobooks or call my Grandma to chat.

At night, unless I’m really tired, I have a hard time falling asleep because when it’s quiet, my thoughts are very loud.

But one kind of quiet I’m good at is sharing companionable silence with my partner. We’re together pretty much all the time, which, between my current unemployment and my partner’s part time job, really is most of our waking hours. It’s been that way since… we’ll, since a month or two after we met, really, minus the time he spent studying in London. The way we avoid driving each other bonkers is by allowing ourselves to still do our own things a lot of the time, just in each other’s company.

Which is why I also like this Quiet haiku by S. M. Saves.

There are many kinds of quiet, and all of them are important. I do need to get better at the “quiet in nature” and “quiet in my own mind” kinds, but I’ve known that for as long as I’ve been trying to get back into meditating regularly.

What kinds of quiet are you good at?